Bonefrog Buffalo – the Endurance Unicorn

When I landed in Buffalo, the tallest things I could see were the overpasses and the racing temps were forecast in the low 80s.   Saturday’s Bonefrog Endurance was going to be an easy day. I’d never raced a Bonefrog before, but logging 5 laps around the course to secure the coveted gold frog pin felt inevitable. After all, I’d completed an Ultra Beast, ran a sub-4 marathon, done a SealFit 20X, and all kinds of crazy stuff… how hard could it really be?

I was an overconfident moron about to get exactly what he deserved.

Hard Lesson #1: The course doesn’t care how badass you think your race resume is; neither does the blazing sun, or its evil sidekick “humidity.”

The race was held at Kissing Bridge Snow Sports, about an hour drive from Niagara Falls #racecation. As I drove by all of the upstate NY homes on the way there, I felt really poor. But when I arrived at the festival area, the sea of OCR shirts and GoRuck packs powered a really welcoming feel. Logistically, everything at the race was on point. Parking, bag check, knowing where to go, etc.. Bonefrog is owned and operated by Navy SEALs, and their race execution shows it.

While Buffalo itself may be flat, the hills at this ski spot were legit and the Bonefrog crew used them like tools of evil to make us feel special throughout the day. The race crew set the tone at the 8:30 starting line: No lollygagging or hype, just “get after it” and off we went. There were zero downhill teases at the start, just a shot straight up the hill at inclines ranging from 15%-30%.

Somewhere around the first climb, I started to appreciate how hot a day in the mid-80s can feel when your heart rate’s already jacked. The 90% humidity helped make it feel extra awesome. As a guy from Alaska, it was slightly uncomfortable but I figured courses usually just have a few of those climbs so I’d be okay.

Spoiler Alert: there were still 7 more climbs to go.

At the top of the first climb, we came to an obstacle unique to Bonefrog. It’s like a chest-high hurdle you have to jump over, only its covered in car tires. No problem, I’d seen pictures and had a plan. I’d run towards it and jump to hit it at a 45-degree angle going up… The tire would rotate with the force of my body and carry me over. #Easy day. Wrong! I ran, jumped, then stuck to the tires like I was on flypaper and came to a dead stop. Although I eventually made it over, it wasn’t dignified.

Hard Lesson #2: Being good at other OCRs doesn’t impress the obstacles you’ve never seen.

No worries, there are always hiccups. After a nice downhill running section, I saw a rope climb at the base of the hill. I started to smile as I visualized this obstacle to be owned.  As I was running and picturing my triumph to come, I tripped on the wet grass and did a sliding faceplant down the hill.  I made the rope climb, but with wet hands and a bruised ego.

After the rope, it was back up and down another hill with a few assorted obstacles in between. There were mainstays like walls to climb, tire drags and a carry; but the real fun came when we hit the bottom of the hill again.

Something I came to appreciate throughout the day was how much different this race series was from the other OCRs I’ve done. The Bonefrog obstacles mercilessly beat your grip strength down like your forearms owe the race director money.

I’d seen pictures of the obstacle below. None of them warned me that the bars roll.  The extra movement adds something.

 

I’d done a traverse under bouncy nets using only my hands before, so I thought this would be easy too… Only these grips bounce and roll.  I fell, and it hurt.

Seriously, one of the easier obstacles wound up being an unknotted rope you jumped to like Tarzan so you can swing across a pool of water. At most races, that’s considered a hard one.

No worries, it was bound to get easier right? Wrong. The unshaded climbs continued, and then I ran out of water! I thought my 18 oz bottle was overkill; I should have brought my camelback (and salt for that matter).

Eventually, the festival area reappeared with a gauntlet of clustered obstacles that guarded the finish line like grip strength sucking sentinels.

 

These were tricky, but the one I’d read about the most was “Get to the Choppa.” A few reviews said it was hard, and since it’s so high the fear of falling is quite real. No worries, I had a foolproof plan to get through this one safely: Don’t fall.

Seriously, just suck it up. If falling scares you, do a Color Run. Bonefrog’s run by SEALs, not Disney characters.

Is the Choppa hard? Yes. The plan I had to rotate from blade to blade like a trapeze artist fell apart the second I grabbed hold. That thing turned me around and twisted my arms like pretzels. Thankfully, the fear of falling powered my intense death grip to those blades until I was finally able to kick the bell.

After 2 hours and 57 minutes, I hit the final obstacle at the finish line. Bonefrog’s finish is unique, and it either moves you or it doesn’t. You climb up a rope and then swing across monkey bars with a ginormous American Flag at your side. Personally, this finish was worth the trip by itself and the pic they get of you at the end is better than any medal I have in my case.

 

And that’s why I suppose you love this crew or don’t. They bring you old school OCR, and they do it with heart. On the course, you’ll do 31 burpees, one for each KIA service member listed on a board. Later, you’ll climb a steep hill in the blazing sun and then get to write the name of a loved one on a wall. And after gutting out the obstacles and terrain, your final memory of the course is swinging triumphantly by a huge American flag.

So, did I get the gold frog pin? Not a chance. The challenge course was 8 miles, had 30 obstacles and over 3k feet of gain and loss. There were only 2.5 hours before I wouldn’t be allowed to start another lap. I was so far away from my five lap goal that I called it a day and went out for Gelato with my wife. The remaining sprint laps were 3 miles, 20 obstacles and about 1,700 feet of gain and loss each. I don’t think anyone completed four of those to bag a gold frog pin that day.

Hard Lesson #3: Bonefrog Endurance is not the Battlefrog Xtreme reincarnated. It’s better but harder. If you fail to give this series the respect it deserves like I did, they’ll eat your lunch.

Unless your name’s Ryan Atkins or one of those elite racers, be happy with 3 laps as a respectable goal on a course like that.

About five minutes of edited video from the course, set to Tuba music, is available on Youtube at Click Here

Elevation Profile for the 8 Mile Challenge Course

Easy Day – SealFit’s Overnight 20X at Vail Lake, California

About 2 hours into the event, one of my teammates asked the Sealfit Coaches if he could step out of line to pee. Their response? “Piss your pants.” In retrospect, it was the easiest thing he’d be asked to do all night.

SealFit’s 20X is a 12-13 hour event for the slightly imbalanced endurance enthusiasts hoping to test their mettle by simulating aspects of Hell Week from SEAL training. These are not cheap, there are only so many per year, and they are not for people without solid physical and mental resilience. For the truly damaged / awesome, SealFit offers a 50 hour crucible called Kokoro.

Saturday Night Before Check-In

The fun started with a sunset check-in at the Vail Lake Resort. Once the sky was black, the Coaches had us run after a moving truck. As we chased the truck through the campgrounds, groups of drunken campers appeared to cheer us on. A mile or so later, things got real. We entered an open area with floodlights and a raging fire that lit up several pull up bars and two horse troughs filled with ice and water.

We were told to form lines around the Coaches who looked like models from a military fitness mag. The stoic Coaches stood quietly and eyed us over with their arms folded. If anyone got too close to the Coaches barked “Don’t F*$king Touch Me” in a cold monotone.

Coach Rick with a Kokoro Class

Commander Divine made an appearance and then let the Coaches loose on us. As the lead Coach (Rick) went over the ground rules, the other coaches walked amongst us randomly pouring ice water on people or spraying them with a hose.

We started off by splitting into pairs for the PT test. One person had 2 minutes to do each exercise while the other watched their form to count and no-rep them if they cheated. This part sucked. It wasn’t bad because the coaches were spraying us with the hose or dumping buckets of ice and water on us the entire time (they were), it hurt because they were eagle-eyeing us to make sure we’d no-rep our partners if they didn’t meet the standard.

After our PT test, the funishment started. For the next couple of hours, things would suck. Everything we did was wrong, and the rapid-fire commands demanding instant compliance just kept coming: “on your feet, belly, back, push up, feet, back, belly… ‘why are you all facing different directions!?!’, bear crawl, low crawl, one legged bear crawl, mountain climbers,” etc… All the while, the hoses and ice buckets rained on us, the ground got muddier, and the 50° night air felt colder and colder.

The 20X Pain Train has two speeds: awful and please-shoot-me. If you were good (i.e. you said “thank you coach” when they soaked you) things were awful. If you did anything to call attention to yourself, you prayed for a quick death.

People received unwanted attention a couple of different ways… Stuff like untucked shirts, grunting, making poopy faces, or doing anything out of sync from your teammates was not tolerated. But some things genuinely set the Coaches off!

One person was shivering and started to cry. They scolded her for being a princess and feeling sorry for herself while everyone else was suffering in silence. As one coach delivered that speech, another coach slow-poured an entire bucket of ice and water on top of her head. Later, a guy set down his sandbag before anyone else. That poor guy (who was a really nice!) was pulled in front of the class, called a BF by the coaches, and punished while everyone watched his special PT.

Coach Divine believes in tough love

This epic session of tough love ended with a long bearcrawl they said would continue until at least 7 of us quit. I’m not sure when the first 4 quit, but it happened before we moved on to the next evolution.

Eventually, the PT swarm gave way to ruck time. We loaded our rucks with a chem lite, sandbag, 1 gallon of water, an MRE (no outside calories or water allowed) and were handed a 5’ plastic tube filled with sand. The tube was our “weapon,” so it couldn’t ever touch the ground and always stayed in our right hand.

Our initial pace was light, but we were going uphill in the dark, had no lights, and were carrying 30-40 pounds. The terrain was a mix of deep sand, hard and loose rocks, ruts, and packed dirt. The next few hours of rucking and running were downright treacherous, but I didn’t care. I kept looking up and smiling because I’d never seen as many starts out in my life. The coaches could make life on earth suck, but the nighttime sky in California’s wine country was still breathtaking.

A few miles in, the coaches finally gave us the green light to pee somewhere other than our clothes and all the guys hit the brush line. I asked if anyone was nervous about the Rattlesnake signs posted all over the park. One guy said “snakes sleep at night.” I said a rattlesnake would probably wake up if a group of people started pissing on it, but nobody seemed to care.

After our break, some of us volunteered for a fast 4-6 mile ruck run while the others hung back for a different activity. Generally, running fast in the dark over that sort of hilly terrain without any light is dumb. But if the Coaches could do it, how could we say no? Despite the 30#+ load, we probably held a sub-9 pace in several spots. I inadvertently ran off the trail into the tall bushes once, others took nasty spills, but nobody got seriously hurt.

Once we came in from the ruck run, it was Murph time! I’m willing to bet we’d all done the Murph before, I’m less certain that anyone had done one after 7-8 hours like the kind we’d just lived. Our rules were: solid form, strict order (no Chelsea), and we would do it in teams of two. Our finish times varied, but the last two people finishing did so with the entire class running behind them and cheering.

Relaxing after the Murph

The coaches decided to cool us down from the Murph with log PT. I’ve read that SealFit logs are lighter than GoRuck logs. Those stories are crap. SealFit logs just feel lighter because you aren’t carrying them in a fixed position for 5+ hours.

SealFit log PT is awesome. Yes, I said it. The “ground log, right shoulder, press, squat,” etc. were the best team exercises I’ve ever done. Our team never really could shoulder the log in place very well, but we moved in synch like a boss.   Some parts did suck – like when I crushed my face with the log during sit ups – but I learned a lot about how to read my teammates and be part of a group moving together.

Once our log PT was done, we moved to a deep sand pit for morning sugar cookies and a PT blitz. Even though I was still shaking sand out of my hair on the flight back, the coaches said my sugar cookies sucked. We vacillated between PT, team races and more punishments for screwing up for a long time. Then it was back to the logs.

After overhead log presses, squats, and shoulder-to-shoulder repeats, the Coaches mixed it up and sent us off doing a series of log races. 6 people running with a log on their shoulders trying to pass another team of 6 people running with a log on their shoulders is every bit as much fun as you might imagine. Nobody died. J

After our races, the SealFit coaches force-multiplied and frenetically hazed us with hoses, buckets of water and nonstop commands over the bullhorn to do things that hurt. This went on for a while until the damn logs came back again!

Looking good, feeling good.

We did all the log PT movements for a long time, only this go around we were being hosed down. With a log under my chin, I was on my back for a sit up when one of the coaches emptied a bucket of water on my face. It felt like being water boarded.

Log sit ups are even more fun than they look

Coach Rick called out for an overhead log press hold. We failed his time goal. He ordered a second one, we failed it too. Before our third attempt, he called out Hooyah! All 31 of us screamed Hooyah back, and it sparked an exchange of Hooyahs between Coach Rick and our Team that lasted for about a minute. After the last Hooyah, all the logs went up and stayed overhead for the duration. Coach Rick led us through one final Hooyah, then said the magic words we’d been waiting to hear: “20X, you’re secured.”  Video of our last 20 minutes is available on SealFit’s Facebook page.

39 started, 31 graduated; 20X class is secured!

When the 20X ends, you get to see the Coaches revert back to the nice people they are in real life. You also get a sweet patch and SealFit coin that will never be sold.

SealFit SWAG proudly displayed on my GR1

After the 20X graduation there’s an immense feeling of pride, a special sense of community and in my case a ravenous hunger. Literally, hunger… I went to In-and-Out Burger, then to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle, and then downed an entire pizza once I made it to LAX.

Coach Rick asked if I would be back for Kokoro. I thought he was crazy. After a good night’s sleep, I got my mind right and set the goal to head back.  In 2018, I’m going to kick the demon called Kokoro right between the legs. #hooyah!

But first, there’s that small matter of tackling Survival Run Canada this August. 🙂

Photo Credit: SealFit’s Facebook Account , SealFit’s Instagram Account , Daniel Delfino, and Jason Zinn .

GoRuck Alaska: Back-to-Back Tough and Light

“No, it’s not a group suicide…”

Shortly after sunrise, 26 weirdos were standing at the edge of a steep bluff on the Alaskan coastal trail ready to rappel down a hundred or so feet to the rocky shore. We were covered in mud, wore heavy rucks, and literally smelled like crap. A drunk couple yelled down to us to ask if this was a group suicide. Everyone laughed and reassured them we were okay, but once we reached the shore we did an exercise in the surf that simulates drowning in ankle deep water, so I suppose their confusion was understandable. Just another day in GoRuck event paradise.

GoRuckToughRockingChairs

GoRucks are the oddball events of the OCR – Endurance world. There’s an abundance of obstacles, filth and heavy things to carry, but there’s no set course or timing chips. They start when you meet up with a genuine Special Forces Cadre, then venture out as a group to push beyond the limits you thought existed over 13 hours with a smile on your face – and at least 40 pounds on your back at all times.

Our 9 pm starting point was a park near the coast in downtown Anchorage. The Cadre for this event was a Navy SEAL, so I was fairly terrified. Would this guy be crazy enough to send us into the tidal flats and frigid Alaskan ocean? Going off the GoRuck website pic, he didn’t strike me as being an overly cautious.

CADRE BRETT

GoRuckCadreBrett

We didn’t wait long for the answer. First task after roll call: go to the beach, get completely wet and muddy, then come back here. “You’ve got 5 minutes.”

I’m pretty sure most people knew whatever we did wouldn’t be good enough. On our 5th try, we finally got it right. Our reward for getting completely filthy was sitting in a saltwater trench and then “disappearing” underwater for 5 seconds as a group – adding 10 pounds of water to our rucks in the process.

Once out of the water, the 2-hour welcome party started with pushup facing downhill. Somewhere on the way to our 20 rep goal, the Cadre made us start over. I lost count of how many times we were reset back to zero (someone’s knees would fall, we weren’t in sync, the man bun the Cadre’s hair was in was too tight, etc.), but it was a lot and I’m pretty sure we did at least 80 in a row. Restarting the counts happened a lot, regardless of the exercise we were doing.

GoRuckToughWelcomeParty

The party ended with an over-under tunnel of love that was downright painful.

GoRuckToughTOL

Then we were given our first mission: locate and transport a pair of listening devices along the coast. The enemy had cleverly disguised the devices as heavy logs.

GoRuckToughListeningDevice

The devices were moved along the trail to a secure checkpoint: a swamp with 2 inches of goose poop floating on the water. It was guarded by a hornet’s nest, but almost everyone snuck by without getting stung.  The lighter device was discarded and the heavier one continued its journey.

GoRuckToughCrapPond

At 26 people, the heavier device seemed manageable. But this being GoRuck, Cadre Brett made things interesting by saying only the task’s team leads could talk. Within minutes, two people broke the rule and became casualties.

GoRuck Lesson 1: Follow the instructions or wish you did.

Casualties in GoRuck mean bodies need to be carried. Each casualty takes two people off the log (er, device support): the injured and the carrier. Things go from being manageable to sucking quickly. Everyone shut up after that and developed mad sign language skills.

A few quiet miles later, we reached a bridge the Cadre deemed unsafe. We headed off trail to the mouth of a ravine and tied a rope bridge to cross under. Hooking yourself to 100’ of rope with a carabineer and dragging yourself across a ravine is an interesting experience. Doing it in the dark while pushing and kicking tree branches out of the way made it downright exhilarating.

We recovered the listening device and made it to a bluff along the coast just short of the airport runway for a break where Brett told us a funny story about his first combat Op. It involved him and a SEALs team watching a group of drunken Iraqis ride a bucking donkey in Baghdad sort of like a rodeo. After that, we overhead pressed the log while he briefed the new team leads on the next task: moving the device to a steep bluff so we could kick it down the hill to the ocean.

The device hadn’t stopped careening downhill when Brett said (laughing) we had to go down after it. This is where we learned how to rappel, and it was pretty fun.

GoRuckToughRappel

After the drowning exercise in the freezing surf, we packed 500+ pounds of rocks into sandbags and headed up the coast for a timed and a series of other fast marches (most of which we failed). About midway through our last march, the Cadre noticed people were too far spaced out. Bam! 5 casualties. As we slowed, the 5 casualties became 10.

At 10 bodies, everyone was carrying bodies, being carried or holding multiple rucks. Our group started failing one by one. Seemingly annoyed, the Cadre told us to stop and march back to the Goose Crap lagoon to pick up another listening device. The groans were audible. Then he smiled and said “just kidding, you’re done.”

It took a second to process, but after it sunk in, everyone swore at Brett with genuine passion, then relief. After 13 hours, our Tough class graduated.

GoRuckToughFinish

A few of us had signed up for the GoRuck Light that was scheduled to start four hours later.

The five of us returning after the Tough were hoping the Light would be easier. After roll call, Brett made two of the returning Tough alums the team leads and said “you know what I want to see.”

“Okay everyone, down to beach to get wet and covered in mud.” Surprise! We missed the time hack. Our penalty: the Tunnel of Love through a muddy ditch.

GoRuckLightLuvTunnel

W elephant walked out of the inlet and hiked a few miles to a lagoon and formed two rows in the water, then were told to disappeared for five seconds.

GoRuckLightDisappear

Since we were completely soaked, it was time for another welcome party. For the Light, exercises were in sets of 10 and he didn’t reset the counter on us. It seemed like he was genuinely trying to keep this one more fun focused – and we got to see his sarcastic sense of humor come out more.

After the welcome party and more elephant walking, we arranged the rucks into two course markers to play “it pays to be a winner.”

We divided into 2 teams of 8 for a series of wheelbarrow, leapfrog, low crawl, barrel rolls, etc. races against each other. In the first two races, winners sat in the shade for a break while the losing team jumped into the lake to disappear for five seconds. Losers in the 3rd race received a punishment so bad I won’t even talk about it.

Next up was a timed hike to acquire a new listening device camouflaged as a tree along the rocky coast. It was so light I asked Brett where the hell it had been during the Tough. A few hundred feet down the trail, another listening device (this time disguised as an enormous rock) was identified and hooked up to the first one. Not surprisingly, a 2nd device resembling a large rock was added up shortly after that.

GoRuckLightListeningDev

We marched the devices back to the starting point, only to be turned back to the beach. Back on the coast, the devices were unbundled and chucked into the sand. Graduation time? Nope. 19 group burpees instead.

Once the last of the burpees was counted out, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived after 4 hours and the patches come out.

GoRuckLightGraduation

The feeling of pride having fought off the urge to stay home after the tough and coming back to finish both events is something I think the 5 of us will remember for a long time.

These events are truly special. You meet amazing people and get to hang with genuinely elite members of the armed forces to celebrate fitness and America.  Video from the event is available here .

Can’t wait for GoRuck Pearl Harbor Heavy in December.

Photo Credit: Brett Vernon, Christopher Lutes, Ralph Swan, Louie Weigers.

BattleFrog Xtreme vs. Triple Digit Heat in Portland

If the devil visited the course on race day, he would have worn shorts. My hometown greeted the BattleFrog crew with a blistering 100+ dose of PNW sun.

BattleFrog - BFX Briefing - Portland

The BattleFrog Extreme (BFX) started with a 7:45 briefing / PT Session from the Beard himself, and then an 8:15 send off from Coach Pain (after a person who missed the 7:45 briefing was publically hazed). Our goal was as many laps of the 8k course as possible, but whatever lap we were on 6.5 hours later would be our last. You could stop at 3 laps for a BFX medal, but an extra gold star for each lap would be waiting at the finish line if you wanted more – and a silver star at lap 5.

BattleFrog - Coach Pain - Portland

Coach Pain’s send off was great. The guy channels Don King’s lyricism, Leonidas’ inspirational touch and Jack Lalane’s passion for being awesome in all things fitness. And he’s a super nice! After the race I shook his hand and thanked him for the boost at the start. He pointed to my BFX medal and said it meant a lot to him to see me wearing that. Kids need that sort of guy as a role model.

The race course started easy enough going up a hill. A bunch of people ran up it while I did a slow jog, then it leveled out and I started passing. After a nice downhill in the shade we turned back up for the full sun exposure parts of the course. There were a few standards O-U-Ts, walls, and then a pond / horse toilet where the Normandy Jacks supported low wires we had to crawl under.

BattleFrog BFX Stinky Pond - Portland

After the pond there was a nice trail section again with some shade that didn’t last, and then the Jerry Can carry. These 50 pound containers of water felt easy on the first few laps, but they morphed into instruments of torment as the day got hotter. The unshaded loop we carried them on was long, and had respectable inclines.

BattleFrog Jerry Can Portland

Still, most everything was simple on lap one. The early morning flow helped burn off a lot of the nervous energy. The muddy creek we traversed, mud mounds and the quicksand obstacle were all still fresh – and they all took turns dumping new rocks into our shoes. Later in the day, these became shoe stealing and cramp inducing bogs where the mud didn’t stop until it hit your knees.

What stood out by lap one was the obstacle variety. This was my 12th OCR / endurance event, and I’d developed a bit of “been there, conquered that” cockiness about most OCR things not called an Ultra Beast. Any meathead can push through Spartan obstacles, but the BF stuff is tricky and took some real thought.

On my first lap, I successfully navigated the elite wedge wall. I think the cliffhanger from ANW might be easier. The thing leans backwards, uses rock climbing hand holds that are unevenly distributed and goes on forever. But let’s talk about that platinum rig…  I completed this contraption on 3 of 4 laps, but even after watching my video I still can’t tell you how. Were the course directors downing shots and commiserating over bad breakups when they designed that thing? The rope to Olympic ring transitions were awkward enough, but the varying heights of the rings made that thing exceptionally hard. Battlefrog, I owe you an apology for underestimating your courses…. Those obstacles are about as “easy” as Coach Pain is timid and shy.

Lap 1 ended shortly after I made it up the tall rope climb (above 2 inches of hay?) and through the Tip of the Spear (a really, super fun and semi technical obstacle). At under 1:20, I was feeling good about getting five laps in.

I’d read about the triple digit heat and thought I was ready. Instead of steady pacing the day, I planned to go out a faster and bank as many laps as possible before the heat caught up. I restocked my hydration belt, downed a Gatorade and some Nuun spiked water and took off. About 1:25 minutes later I was back again, with only a minor calve cramp from spacing calories too far apart. Lap 3 took 11 minutes longer, but the body was still showing me love so I took off for #4 feeling cocky.

It had been oppressively hot for a while before lap 4, but I thought I was managing it well. After all, I’d made it through the Platinum Rig three times already – and that thing’s impossible! The medics by the drop area asked if I wanted them to pour cold water on my head before leaving. I tapped the hydration packs on my waist, gave them a cheesy grin and said “no worries, I got this” and took off up the hill.

BattleFrog - BFX PDX - On Site Medics

Around 1:30 the course felt like Hades. The stinky pond with the Normandy Jacks now felt like an Oasis that I didn’t want to leave. I put all of my body that fit into the water to cool down a bit. After some more trail weaving, those wretched Jerry Cans were back. While lugging that thing uphill my core temp started feeling nuclear, and the heart rate started spiking. I set the can down a few times, but even after rest I felt just as tired as I did before stopping. Then the cramps started. I didn’t realize until afterwards that my final hour on the course was going to be a textbook case of heat exhaustion.

Shortly after posing for my last Jerry Can picture, muscles in my abs started visibly balling up under the skin. Every time a mud obstacle would come, cramps in the legs started firing off like a symphony. And it got progressively worse.

The legs didn’t get all the fun. The 90+ obstacles had taken an upper body toll. My forearms started seizing and locked the affected hand into a claw-like pose. Even flexing for a picture triggered the “claw” cramping. It was pretty grim, but then waves of nausea started and they helped take my mind off the cramping.

After moving like a zombie for a bit, it was round 4 with the rig. This time, I failed. The volunteer told me he wouldn’t make me do the penalty loop. Yeah right, like I’m going to start cheating on lap 4? I insisted. He pointed to a 50-pound wreck bag to carry round the loop. I found out later he was being nice, because he didn’t tell me I was also supposed to grab a Jerry Can. Sorry BF, I tried to honor your rules.

The final trudge to the hilltop cemetery felt appropriately symbolic before turning down to the finish line. After three more obstacles (where it was a constant struggle not to vomit), my 20 mile, 120 obstacle and 2,800 feet of elevation gain journey in the blazing heat was over.

If I were a horse in a 1950’s western, they would have shot me at the finish line. Instead, I was pampered with water and ice, and given a huge medal with 4 stars for my effort. I crossed the finish line 6:39 minutes after I started (too late to go out for another lap) and came in 7th among the men.

BattleFrog- BFX Swag - Portland

After the race, the medics watched us like hawks. I hadn’t been laying down for more than a couple of minutes before they had ice packs under both of my arms and behind my neck. Battlefrog really took everyone’s safety in that heat seriously. Watching them constantly checking on their volunteers throughout the day to make sure they were doing alright just reinforced this group’s class.

The course was great, the people were amazing, and I really fell in love with the way this crew rolls. Count me as one of the BF converts. Easily one of the better times I’ve ever had on a course.

If you’d like a highlights visual of the course with Tchaikovsky in the background, an 8-minute video of the day is available here .

Photo Credits: “cool random guy at the shower station” and Chosen Technologies via BattleFrog.